(PIX11) – A mother of three on vacation with her family in Cancun decided to show off her orange, monogrammed bikini top for her husband’s camera, and she posted the photo, which also reveals her post-pregnancy belly, on her lifestyle blog The Chic Site and shared it on social media.
Rachel Hollis’ empowering message of self-love inspired hundreds of thousands of people, including many mothers who are also coming to terms with their new post-baby physiques. Hollis wrote:
“I have stretch marks and I wear a bikini. I have a belly that’s permanently flabby from carrying three giant babies and I wear a bikini. My belly button is saggy… (which is something I didn’t even know was possible before!!) and I wear a bikini. I wear a bikini because I’m proud of this body and every mark on it. Those marks prove that I was blessed enough to carry my babies and that flabby tummy means I worked hard to lose what weight I could. I wear a bikini because the only man who’s opinion matters knows what I went through to look this way. That same man says he’s never seen anything sexier than my body, marks and all. They aren’t scars ladies, they’re stripes and you’ve earned them. Flaunt that body with pride! #HollisHoliday”
The photo has been liked on Facebook nearly half-a-million times, and Hollis has replied to many of the more than 50,000 comments. One woman named Amanda Gongloff, whose comment received more than 6,000 likes, wrote:
“You have no idea of how empowering your words are to someone as myself. I gave birth to my last baby (my third son) 6 months ago. I have many stretch marks . . . and my confidence has plummeted. Reading this has made me realize how im seeing everything in the wrong way . . . THANK YOU! I BELIEVE YOU’VE GIVEN ME A CERTAIN BOOST I NEEDED TO HELP BEGIN THE PROCESS OF REGAINING MY SELF CONFIDENCE.”
“Women want real,” Hollis said. “They want to see things that are aspirational but it needs to be tempered by the truth. It’s fine to show lives on social media with blown out hair and cute outfits but we need to be honest about the hard stuff as well. The truth makes us feel like we’re not alone … the truth makes us think ‘Me Too! I feel that way too!'”
It wasn’t only women who were touched by Hollis’ message, Steven Michalek wrote, “Love it that women feel comfortable with there (sic) bodies after having a baby or more. My wife has had three kids and has same issues but it does not bother me one bit cause I know what she went through to bring our kids into the world. She will always be beautiful as the day I met her.”
Hollis says she founded The Chic Site with the goal of inspiring women to be their best selves.